WASHINGTON (AP) – The Latest on the congressional effort to overhaul the national health care law (all times local):
Republican Sens. Jerry Moran of Kansas and Mike Lee of Utah say they will oppose the Republican health care bill, dealing a blow to GOP leaders’ hopes of repealing and replacing President Barack Obama’s legislation.
The two senators issued separate statements late Monday saying they can’t support the legislation. They join two other Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky, in opposition.
With just a 52-48 majority in the Senate, Lee and Moran’s resistance means Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cannot move ahead on the bill.
Lee says he can’t support the bill because it doesn’t repeal all of the Obamacare taxes and doesn’t go far enough to lower premiums.
Moran says, “We should not put our stamp of approval on bad policy.”
A third Republican senator is signaling he may not back his party’s health care bill when it finally comes to a vote. That puts the high-profile legislation in deep jeopardy.
Conservative Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson says he’s spoken to colleagues and confirmed that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said future Medicaid cuts planned by the health care measure will “never happen.”
Johnson tells reporters such comments are “troubling” and “a real breach of trust.”
He says he’s no longer urging colleagues to vote to begin debate on the measure. That vote is now expected as early as next week.
The measure will be derailed if three of the 52 GOP senators oppose it. Two other Republicans have already said they’re against it.
A conservative Republican who is running to unseat Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake says she’s met with White House officials about the campaign.
Kelli Ward says said she was encouraged by the meeting at the White House, but wouldn’t discuss details.
The White House meeting points to strained ties between Flake and President Donald Trump. Flake was an outspoken Republican critic of Trump in last year’s presidential contest. He’s facing the possibility of multiple GOP rivals in the 2018 primary.
Ward is a former state senator who sought to unseat Sen. John McCain in 2016.
She calls Flake ineffective but acknowledges ousting an incumbent is difficult. But Ward points to Trump’s surprise win in 2016 and says “times have changed.”
Foes from left and right are using the delayed vote on the Republican health care bill to make it as politically toxic as possible for wavering GOP senators to support it.
But the postponement also gives Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the White House more time to cut the deals they need to rescue the imperiled measure.
McConnell signaled Monday that days of bargaining and persuasion with reluctant colleagues lay ahead. He says the only way to prevail “is with continued hard work, and that’s just what we intend to do. ”
The AARP is aiming TV and radio ads at undecided, moderate Republican senators in five states. From the right, Americans for Prosperity is rallying its members to urge senators to make the bill even more conservative.
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